Monday, 18 December 2017

Jnana and Dhyana also need Bhakti - Ram Mohan's life experience_Part 3

The magazine of God, for God, with God


It was almost instantly that Ram Mohan decided to make everything he did as an expression of his love to Swami. In 1984, he encouraged the students to produce a hostel magazine as an offering to Bhagawan on His Birthday on 23rd November. A number of hand-written articles, hand-drawn sketches and original poems landed up in his room in the weeks leading to the birthday. With the permission of the Controller of Examinations, Prof. Nanjundiah, Ram Mohan got multiple copies made from the University cyclostyle machine. Then, getting all the pages bound, Ram Mohan offered the magazine to Swami for His birthday.

Swami placed the bulky book on His lap and leafed through all its contents. He was visibly happy and He blessed the effort. From then on, there was no looking back for Ram Mohan. He ensured that a copy of the magazine which was released for every major festival - Guru Poornima, Krishna Janmashtami, Dusshera, Christmas etc. - made its way to Bhagawan. After that, a copy of the magazine was also delivered to each and every room in the hostel for the students to read. Swami would go through the magazine and send His feedback on different articles, poems, sketches and paintings. Even when Swami had suffered a fall and a fracture, He went through the magazine, sending feedback via the editor of the Sanathana Sarathi, Sri V.K.Narasimhan. Swami conveyed to Ram Mohan,
“Why has the boy drawn Garuda’s nose so long? Tell him to shorten it...”

Ram Mohan offering the initial version of the hostel magazine, Sai Chandana, to his Swami in the Mandir portico. 
Years later, in 1989, Swami Himself christened the magazine as ‘Chandana’. The next issue onwards, the magazine carried the name ‘Sai Chandana’ in bold letters on the front. Ram Mohan could not think of Chandana without the ‘Sai’ coming first! Thus, not only did Ram Mohan make the hostel magazine a vehicle for his devotion, he made it the carrier of all the students’ love too. In the later years, the magazine grew in size and significance and had multiple editors. Even then, when Swami referred to it, He always fondly remembered Ram Mohan. In fact, going through the 60th Birthday issue, Swami looked at Ram Mohan and told him,
“I know that you only have written all the articles in here.”
That thrilled the devoted heart.

{This is the concluding part of the 3-part story of Ram Mohan. To ensure you get the best of the story, read this part only after reading the first two parts at the links below:
1. How to get devotion and increase it? - Life experience of Ram Mohan Rao - Part 1
2. The easiest way to increase devotion to God - Life experience of Ram Mohan Rao - Part 2 }

Sai Chandana became a passion and obsession with Ram Mohan. He fervently worked for it with the feeling that this magazine of God should record the heartbeats of His students. The contributions were from students as young as 12 years of age right up till the research scholars in their mid twenties. Ram Mohan considered Sai Chandana as a legacy of the present to the future, a gift and treasure trove of Divine Love.

The lines of dedication from the first issue of the hostel magazine (that Swami named as Chandana) says it all.
When the revered Sri Gandikota Subrahmanya Sastry passed away, a list of names was taken to Swami to name his substitute on the board of reviewers of the Sri Sathya Sai Books and Publications Trust alongside Prof. Anil Kumar, Sri Ramana Rao and Sri Prahlad. It was possibly as a reward for his purity, patience and perseverance that Swami selected Ram Mohan as a member of the book-review board.

When God waits for the devotee

This attitude of doing everything as an offering to Swami began to pervade Ram Mohan’s ‘translator-abilities’ too. In the 1990s, Swami brought Prof. Anil Kumar from the Brindavan campus of the SSSIHL to its Prasanthi Nilayam campus. That was when Ram Mohan’s opportunities as a translator declined drastically as Prof. Anil Kumar took over that divine task. However, that did not sadden Ram Mohan or dampen his enthusiasm for Swami’s voice and words. He would sit in his spot behind the Ganesha idol in the Mandir portico, recording Bhagawan’s discourse on tape, in his diary and his heart. Then, he would transcribe the entire discourse in his beautiful Telugu handwriting after which, he would add his comments and appreciation of the different points made by Swami in the discourse. Having done that, he would make copies of his work and send the originals to Swami in a sealed envelope!


The staff members of the Sathya Sai institutions had been given the special privilege to hand over letters to Swami during the non-Mandir hours as well. The students blessed to be serving Swami would collect these letters and take it to Swami in His room. Ram Mohan was a regular at Swami’s door on any day that Bhagawan delivered a discourse. Then came challenging times!

During 1996, Swami delivered discourses daily and continuously for about three months in a row. Ram Mohan ensured that he would do his spiritual routine irrespective of how late in the evening it became. He would sit in the mandir promptly after the session and put pen to paper, pouring out the Divine Discourse along with his comments, compliments and feedback to Swami! In fact, he would also gather feedback from some of the senior devotees and include that as well. Then, wending his way to the rear entrance of the Poornachandra Auditorium (where Swami was staying after 1993), he would give the envelope to either of the two lads - M.Sainath or K.Vedanarayan - to be offered to Swami. Swami acknowledged his unique Sadhana in an equally unique manner.

One day, one of Swami’s room boys came to him and said,
“Sir, you are delaying Swami’s departure to His chambers...”
“Oh! I am sorry... But why? What happened?” Ram Mohan was curious to know and make necessary amends.
“Swami returns after His discourse. Though physically tired, He does not retire but waits for you. He says that He wants your opinion and feedback before going in. So, please try to come early from tomorrow onwards.”
Ram Mohan was in tears. He always had found great joy in waiting for and waiting upon his Lord. He was touched when he found out that his Lord reciprocated his feelings and actions. His determination steeled to do more and more for Swami, as an expression of love.

Many have been the occasions when Swami has waited to shower His blessings
on Ram Mohan Rao. Here is one instance in the school building. Also seen
in the picture, on the steps, is Sri Bejoy Misra, another English teacher who had
an incredible story with Swami. 
The teacher who strove for his boys

Ram Mohan always wanted his students to go near to Swami and become dear to Him. He impressed on them the importance of Swami over everything else in life. Whatever they did, he wanted them to do it out of love for Swami. Conversely, he wanted them to do everything that Swami loved too! That is why he encouraged them to prepare speeches and make dramas to present before Bhagawan.

To start off, he would script the drama, pick a cast and also direct the drama. These would usually be based on lives of inspirational and elevating beings. Some of the dramas, Swami Came and witnessed and these were the greatest successes that Ram Mohan cherished - when his students would get opportunities to interact with Swami. But even if Swami did not grant the opportunity to put up the skit or drama in His physical presence, Ram Mohan would make them put it up on Sunday night in the presence of other teachers and students, in Swami’s Omnipresence. Maybe it was a reward for these efforts that Swami also gave Ram Mohan the opportunity to be part of several Convocation dramas - the crowning glory of the University’s cultural activities.  Ram Mohan’s hard work, patience and perseverance paid off and after the year 2000, his students managed to put up multiple dramas in the presence of Swami - Mirabai and Daivam Manusha Roopena to name a couple. There were many interesting incidents during the course of the drama presentations.

  1. During one particular drama, Ram Mohan had a tough time getting a student to play the role of a female attendant to Emperor Akbar’s daughter. None of the boys wanted to play a female role - that too of an attendant. Everyone sought ‘important’ roles that would bring them attention from their Swami. Finally, one student agreed to play that role with the faith that Swami knows everything and the fond hope that he would not get neglected. On the day of presentation, Swami blessed the actors with an interaction in the Bhajan hall before the actual drama. That evening, Bhagawan seemed to suddenly spot ‘the attendant lady’. Swami started enquiring about his name, the class he was studying in, how his parents were, where he hailed from and so on. The attention showered on him was more than even the so called ‘main characters’. The student was overwhelmed with the Divine attention and Ram Mohan was happy to have his faith vindicated in the truth that God sees the efforts and not just the end-results. In fact, after this, students would vie with each other for the ‘female roles’ thinking that to be the shortcut to Swami’s grace! For Swami, how we do the role is more important than the role itself. This is true of every drama - including the drama of life.
  2. During the drama on Mirabai, Swami suddenly left the dais and went into the interview room. As a result, the drama was paused for about ten minutes. In the interview room, Swami revealed that He wanted to give sufficient time for Mirabai to change her dress for the next scene!
  3. The drama ‘Daivam Manusha Roopena’ (presented by the 11th grade students on March 29, 2007) was on the life of Shirdi Baba. When the scene of Shirdi Baba leaving the body for three days came, Swami went into the interview room. There, He made a revelation that literally left the students, Divij Desai and Harish Krishan. dumbstruck.
    “A time will come when I too will leave like Shirdi Baba but unlike Him, I will not come back. My tomb will be in the place where I currently sit and I too will speak from the Tomb like Shirdi Baba.” The boys immediately responded saying that the Poornaavatar should be with us for at least a 100 years and He should not 'utter inauspicious things'. Swami seemed pleased with the response but gave no assurance of the same.

    In the same vein, though not directly related to the current story, Swami revealed to the same Harish something profound in early 2011, weeks before He left the physical. Swami expressed a deep sense of anxiety that His students (especially) would leave Prasanthi Nilayam when He sheds His body. Stating that, Swami got very upset and apparently agitated. It didn’t seem to be a cause of such agitation back in 2011 but there is a reason behind every single act of Bhagawan. Today, we see people coming to Prasanthi Nilayam in droves but we also witness devotees leaving, deluded by the thinking that ‘Swami is not here’ or ‘Swami is now in X place or Y place’.  Hasn’t Bhagawan has said that though God is present everywhere, you find Him installed where His glory is sung? No where has it been sung and with such emotion as in Prasanthi Nilayam and in His Divine Presence! Every brick in the mandir is filled with His Love. He has built everything Himself shedding His sweat. Physical presence or not, Prasanthi Nilayam is definitely effused with THE PRESENCE.
    .

Ram Mohan would set aside time during the English classes to train the students in the art and science of public speaking. He would hand to them think books on the lives of great personalities and ask them to summarize the same - one per class. He remembered Swami’s words to him when he had joined - that English was very important and the boys must be well-trained in it. Thus, English classes would be a combination of theory and practice. But the focus was always Swami - directly or indirectly.  
“Swami is more important than all your studies boys”, he would often remind them.
From Manohars and Manojs, Amars and Aravinds, Srikants and Satyabrathas - hundreds were the students who benefitted from his thirst to present speakers before Bhagawan. Many of them developed into powerful orators and communicators thanks to the foundation laid by Ram Mohan. More importantly, many of them grew greatly in their love for God!

When Swami stated in His discourse that God was Ganapriya (a lover of music) Ram Mohan encouraged the students to incorporate songs as part of their speeches. No wonder Swami would be pleased by their talks and bless them. When these boys received gifts of grace from Swami - vibhuti or a ring or a chain - Ram Mohan would rejoice like he had himself been presented those. He would shed tears of joy and offer gratitude to Swami for having taken another soul closer to its ultimate goal. It was such selflessness that endeared him to all students and, of course, to Swami.
Ram Mohan felt the lack of guidance and a goal when he was a student. He thus worked with an overriding passion that his students should not be left in a spiritual void like him in the student years.
“But, it is not an easy task”, Ram Mohan confesses, “to mould the boys with the idea of taking them closer to Bhagawan. At the end of it all, today, I would like to seek forgiveness of those boys on whom I might have committed excesses and enforced strict discipline, carried away by the enthusiasm and passion to please God.”
Standing beside Swami, Ram Mohan would always think of the different ways in which he could take the
students closer to Swami - make them near and dear to Him.
Another superb effort that Ram Mohan encouraged the students to participate in was the school exhibition. He would call students in pairs and assign a theme to them. He would explain the idea and kindle their creativity to come up with interesting ways to present the theme. Within weeks, the exhibition was ready. The whole school building was transformed as each classroom became a section of the exhibition. Ram Mohan was Swami’s escort into each and every classroom, as Swami spent more than an hour looking at the exhibits and participating in the various interactions that the students had set up.

One of the exhibits was a burglar alarm. The student requested Swami to attempt to ‘steal’ an object placed within the model. There was a beam that would get cut when Swami put His hand and an alarm would go off. However, when Swami did as told, no alarm went off and Swami laughed aloud. Had the boys forgotten that He was no ordinary Chora (thief) but the Chitta Chora (stealer of hearts)? There was another exhibit of the paths to God - Karma, Bhakti and Jnana - represented respectively by a bullock cart, car and an aeroplane.
“Karma is slow, Bhakti is faster while Jnana is fastest”, the boy explained to Swami.
“That may be true”, replied Swami, “but remember, if you fall from the aeroplane, there is no chance of survival!”
Many were the beautiful interactions with Bhagawan and Ram Mohan was a fortunate first-hand witness to all of these. Again, he rejoiced at the opportunities that the boys got.

In one exhibition, the students had prepared a value-based, dart-board. Swami sweetly agreed to participate. Picking up
a dart, He threw it and the first attempt itself was the bulls eye! It thrilled and cheered everyone around. 
During one of the exhibitions, in a fit of gratitude, Ram Mohan told Swami,
“Swami, I shall be grateful to you for all my lifetimes...”
“Why lifetimes?” Swami, asked, “Why do you want another life?”
Ram Mohan was stunned into silence.
“No need of another life”, Swami continued, “Paadu Janma (worthless ‘future’ life) - Why? This life is enough.”

As Swami left, Ram Mohan stood pondering over the deep implications of the statement and the great blessing that it conferred. He realized that whatever be his thoughts, words and actions, he should never forget that the sole goal of all that was Swami and Swami alone.

A spiritual aspirant at heart

Ram Mohan would be in the thick of things at the hostel. He would take the lead during the celebrations of any festival. He would man the hostel library, maintain the hostel guest room and also discharge his duties as the dispensary in-charge. However much he was involved in multiple activities on multiple fronts, Ram Mohan was always keen on personal Sadhana. That eagerness got compounded when Swami indirectly egged him on to ensure that this would be his last birth. He wanted to get out of the cycle of birth and death in the birth where he had been blessed with the greatest support - his Swami. Thus, whenever the opportunity presented itself, he sought spiritual answers from Bhagawan.

He had already been practicing the mantra of Bhakti and expressing it in every way possible. Not satisfied, he took up to meditation itself. One day, he asked Swami,
“Swami, what should I meditate on?”
Ramyate Iti Ramaha (That which enchants is Rama)”, Swami replied and advised, “Meditate on any form that enchants you.”
That form was a foregone conclusion for Ram Mohan and he fixed the beautiful form in saffron in his mind’s eye during meditation.

Serious about his meditation practice, Ram Mohan would go into the Bhajan hall every evening after darshan and sit on the steps at the back end of the hall. This would give him the necessary height to see Swami on the magnificent chair during the bhajans. He would sit there fixing his gaze firmly on Swami’s form, making terrific efforts to avoid any distractions. Such would be the intensity of his focus that Swami seemed to turn away from his stare! The next day, Swami came to him and said,
“Ay! Bhagavanthuduni Prematho Chudali (You should view God with love).”

That was a revelation for Ram Mohan. The feeling behind the act was more important than the act itself for God. Whether he focussed only on Swami or not, the heart has to be saturated with love for Him. And when the heart is suffused with love, the same love would radiate from his eyes as well. Ram Mohan realized that Bhakti, or love for God, was a necessary ingredient even for meditation and path of enquiry.

On another occasion, in all eagerness, Ram Mohan asked Swami to grant him Brahmajnaana (the ultimate wisdom). Swami smiled and replied,
“Swami can grant it right now. But if Brahmajnana is granted without your effort, it will not stay. It will be temporary. It will remain permanently with you only when you strive and obtain it.”

Spiritual progress conferred on us is not permanent unless we have put efforts for the same and value it. It would be like a father giving money to an extravagantly spendthrift son. The money is gone soon and thus wasted. Ram Mohan understood this. Rather than giving him spiritual food, Swami wanted to make him a spiritual cook who could independently nourish himself! With that aspiration for spiritual wealth and intense longing for Swami in heart, he went about all his duties sincerely. Till 2015, even in his late 60s, he was in the school hostel, following its rigorous schedule, waking up at 5 am and going to bed at 11pm. Now, having retired to his little hermitage-flat, he continues his personal sadhana and also performs his sacred duty as a member of the book-review board of the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust

Mrityorma Amritam Gamaya

There was a particularly significant life-and-death episode in Ram Mohan’s life that proved to him beyond measure that Swami is there taking care of every aspect of his life, every moment of his life.

In the early years of the Sri Sathya Sai Grama Seva, on the 28th of September 2001, to be precise, Ram Mohan was part of a team that was supposed to carry out the recce (reconnaissance survey) of the villages. On his scooter with another teacher at the back, Ram Mohan set out through the Rayalaseema roads. To sanctify the time, they decided to engage themselves in a bhajan antakshari. Engrossed in singing the Lord’s name, Ram Mohan was full of joy. That was when, suddenly, he lost balance on an unexpected road hump. Exactly at that spot, the road was slushy and slippery as well. It was a small fall but it had a terrible impact on Ram Mohan who instantly lost consciousness. (Later, Ram Mohan came to know that according to his horoscope, that fateful day had been marked out for him as the day of Akaala Mrityu or untimely death.)

He woke up in the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, one of the only two absolutely free tertiary care hospitals in the world possibly. He got to know he had lost consciousness for almost an entire day. The accident had taken place at about 10:30 am the previous day and Ram Mohan was stirring up in the early hours of the Brahmamuhurtam, at about 3:30 am, the next day! It was “Sairam” in the heart and on his lips. As he the day progressed and he slowly recovered, he came to know of Bhagawan’s immense grace on him.

At around 1 o'clock in the afternoon, the previous day, the warden of the hostel had delivered a letter at Swami’s residence, conveying the news of the tragic accident that Ram Mohan had been involved in (The other teacher escaped relatively unhurt). During the evening darshan, Swami stopped by the area where the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Mirpuri College of Music were seated. (Interestingly, Ram Mohan would teach English to the Music College students as well.) Swami told the boys, pointing to the roof of the Sai Kulwant Hall,
“Ram Mohan had gone up...”
Taking a few steps, Swami stopped again and continued,
“But where can he go? He is always with me... I gave him a second life.”

When his hand was so firmly interlocked with his Swami's, honestly where could Ram Mohan go without the Lord?
When Ram Mohan heard this, his heart oozed with gratitude. His thoughts flashed back to an episode in his childhood that he had not shared with many. While playing near a well as a child, Ram Mohan had found himself precariously stuck, hanging over the water from the rope that was attached to the pulley. In his childlike innocence, he had forgotten the fact that he didn’t know how to swim. Fear gripped him and he felt that he was going to fall, drown and die. He had then called out the name of Lord Rama in desperation. All of a sudden, his cousin arrived there. Was it a coincidence that this cousin had the name ‘Raghu’, another name of Lord Rama? The cousin promised to rescue him but asked Ram Mohan what he would offer in return. Ram Mohan replied,
“I shall give you fruits from my guava tree at home...”
“Will you give me all the fruits?” demanded Raghu.
“Yes! I shall give you all the fruits.”

Raghu then rescued Ram Mohan who kept up his promise.

Today, Swami had rescued Ram Mohan without demanding anything in return. But Ram Mohan took a vow,
“Swami, for this act of grace and love, I shall offer you all the fruits from the tree of my life. I shall live for you and work for you without craving for the fruits or results of my actions. This life is yours Swami. Please be gracious and accept it.”

Swami says that man is born so the he learns how to never be born again. Ram Mohan understood that Swami had given him a second life and second opportunity to learn that lesson. That is how he wishes to lead the remainder of his life - making everything as an expression of devotion to Swami, loving Him and living for Him. Swami might have left the physical realms but Ram Mohan knows that he is ever-present.

It was in April 2011 that his 87-year old mother suffered from an ‘incurable ailment’ of the legs. Normally, Ram Mohan would approach Swami with a letter but Swami Himself was in hospital now. At his wits end, he only prayed for succour. Was it a coincidence that Swami appeared in his mother’s dream in the early hours of the morning of 24th April and blessed her along with completely healing her? At the time of writing this article, Ram Mohan’s mother still goes daily to the Mandir to draw the beautiful rangolis (floral patterns on the floor) which she knows that her Swami admires daily.
It was in the 1970s, in his youthful prime that Sri Ram Mohan Rao decided to offer his dedication,
love and loyalty to Swami...
Four decades later, in his seventies, Ram Mohan sir continues to serve Swami with the same enthusiasm, with greater
love and loyalty - as a member of the book-review board of the Sri Sathya Sai Sadhana Trust!
He concludes,
“The One who is beyond birth is beyond death. I consider it my greatest fortune and privilege to have been given the opportunity to play a part in the drama envisaged by such a timeless One, my dear Swami. His essence lives on in you and me. The Master thought it fit and so it shall be. To this embodiment of truth, harmony, love and unity, I bow in gratitude, grateful to be among His children of immortality.”



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15 comments:

  1. wonderful to hear ram mohan sir's experiences.he is very sincere and is always ready to do anything for swami.Even in that age,his enthusiasm was amazing.he always inspired us to do something for swami.Speeches,dramas,decorations...what not he makes his students do everything for swami.
    he is always an inspiration for swami's students like us.
    thank you aravind brother for your wonderful work.

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  2. Jai Sai Ram !. Thank you Dear Aravind for helping us recollect our Blessings

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  3. What an article!! We were so fortunate to have been taught by such great souls. You are truly chosen Barru to write about such blessed lives.

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  4. Dear Aravind,

    I truly enjoyed reading the experience of Ram Mohan Sir, It inspires us & reinforces our Faith on OUR BELOVED LORD. The most Kindest Lord. I am truly thankful to have known Swami during this lifetime and consider myself blessed to be associated with the Avatar of Kaliyug. My most Humble pranaams to Swami. JAI SAIRAM

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  5. Sai Bhawatham has immense this bhakthas and their marvelous stories which will fulfill the spiritual hunger of humanity for thousands of years

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  6. anonymous that comment is from this beloved and Dearest Sai Baktha Ram Mohan

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  7. Thanks sairam for sharing such wonderful story fu of love of lord to his Bhakta.

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  8. Sairam Aravind. Narrative of RamaMohan Rao garu's experiences bring out clearly his devotion commitment and complete surrender Poorna Sharanagati showing to all the way ahead on spiritual journey. Enni janmala punya phalamo manamu SWAMI samakaleenulamai putti vaari darshana sparshana sambhashanamulaku nochukunnamu. We must follow the path shown steadfastly to achieve our spiritual goal in this life. Thank you very much.

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  9. Thank you brother for such lovely article. Loved reading every word , sentence. The messages , when God waits for his devotee and Brahmajnanam part of this article are awesome. Sairam

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  10. Dear Brother - My Loving Sairam. My heartfelt thanks and full of gratitude for blessing us with Bhakthi, Jnana and Karma through this article of love. My deep respect and reverence to Respected Sir for teaching us through his life and living on how to sanctify one's life. Thank you so much Brother for showering so much of love on us. With Love and gratitude, Deva

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  11. Tears of love and gratitude for Swami for giving me opportunity to read this article

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  12. I am blessed to read such divine dramas of divine love. These experiences give a sense of positive vibrations within me and reiterates the importance of life.

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  13. Om Sai Ram. But Arvind Sir is this revelation of "not coming back like Shirdi Baba did" against other revelations where Swami said He would come back as Prema Sai.

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Please do take some time to leave your valuable thoughts and feedback here. It will be an enriching read for me. :)